Marine Mammal Science Job Openings

2024 Cetaceans and Marine Fauna research internship

Job Category: Internship Opportunities (unpaid), Volunteer Opportunities
Date Posted:

Delfini del Ponente is currently looking for and accepting interns to join our research project on bottlenose dolphins and other marine fauna in the Western Ligurian Sea, Imperia (Italy) from March to October.

The project

The dolphin research project “Delfini del Ponente”, started in 2018, is the first project focused on monitoring bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) occurrence and distribution in the Western Ligurian Sea. The project is structured on an annual basis, to obtain data year-round. The study has already provided very interesting information about this community inside the study area – its social organisation, abundance of individuals, distribution, and movements also outside the region. Our dataset includes records on several cetaceans species and also on other marine fauna such as seabirds – Mediterranean shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan), Scopoli’s shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea), Northern gannets (Morus bassanus), Sandwich terns (Thalasseus sandvicensis) and more – sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and sunfish (Mola mola), among others.

Surveys are carried out in coastal waters onboard a dedicated zodiac (6 m inflatable boat) around 10 times per month. Training will focus on recording data on marine fauna, collecting photos for photo-ID purposes, environmental, marine traffic, geographical (GPS) and dolphins' behavioural data. Land-based surveys take place in Imperia, in 2 different locations to collect data on the presence/absence of dolphins, fishing boats in activity and marine birds. Fieldwork is a great opportunity to get involved and improve skills in cetaceans and marine biodiversity research. Both land-based and zodiac surveys are weather-dependent, and their number can change each month.

Office work (6 hours per day) includes training and lessons for the interns and supervision of all the activities (photo-id work, transcription of data, data entry, skin lesion analysis, QGIS work, etc…)

Where: Imperia, Italy

When: 1 March-30 October 2024 (minimum 30 days)

Number of interns for month: 2 /3


boat-based surveys monitoring the presence and distribution of bottlenose dolphins

boat maintenance

data collection of other cetaceans, fishes, seabirds, turtles

office work, database updating

photo-id matching and skin-lesion analysis

land-based surveys /opportunistic surveys

monitoring survey for potential sea turtle tracks (only in July-August) – pilot project

lectures and training on cetacean ecology, biology and research techniques, and seabirds and sea turtles id skills

This is a great opportunity to get involved in cetacean research, encounter marine biodiversity while gaining fieldwork experience, travel and explore the beautiful Liguria region and support cetacean research and conservation.

Interns will be involved 5 days a week, 6-8 hours/day (depending on fieldwork or office work)
During their free time, interns will have the opportunity to experience all sorts of activities: swimming, diving, hiking, exploring historical sites, visiting museums, surfing and sailing.


Minimum age of 18

Prior experience in cetaceans or boat-based surveys is not required

Degree or ongoing studies in biology, natural science, veterinary or similar (preferred)

Strong motivation and interest in cetaceans and research

Speak, read and write in fluent English

Be adaptable and highly flexible as fieldwork is weather-dependent

Be prepared to spend many hours on a small zodiac (5-6 m) and under the sun, be able to swim and work in harsh weather conditions both in nearshore and offshore waters

Be prepared to spend many hours in the office (generally 6 hours/day)

Be sociable and with a positive attitude as interns are expected to live and work in an international team

For any further enquiries and details, please send an email to